How to get to grips with divorce

Deciding to get divorced is a difficult and emotional decision. Moneywise TV guides you through the process of dividing your assets.

Divorce is never easy. It's a heartbreaking time and dividing your finances can make the already emotional process a whole lot harder. There's more to think about than simply who gets what so it's a good idea to find out where you stand.
Couples have to be married for at least a year before filing for divorce and the courts need to be satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for it.

When child support is needed, couples can try to come to an agreed figure on their own or use the government's online calculator. Couples who can't come to a decision should go to the CSA directly. It will calculate payments based on a percentage of the absent parent's earnings plus a range of different factors specific to your family.

Although there are no set rules, dividing your assets equally is the standard starting point. Children's best interests always take priority and the chief carer can appeal for a greater share to cover the cost of raising the kids. In some cases, partners who believe they have contributed significantly more to the household income can apply for a larger share. Although the likelihood of succeeding on these grounds is pretty slim.

Those who gave up work to support the their partner's career or to bring up children are eligible for spousal maintenance. This is generally awarded for life unless the former spouse remarries. It is also common to agree a ‘clean break' where maintenance payments stop. This might happen if a couple is young and on fairly equal financial terms or if a spouse can afford to make a one-off lump sum payment to cover the maintenance needed.

The hourly rate for lawyers is around £200, so agreeing as much as possible yourself will help to keep the legal bill down.

An alternative – and often cheaper- option is to use an independent mediator, but sometimes going through the courts is the only solution. In this case, straightforward affairs should cost no more than £5,000 in legal fees, but in messy complex cases where financial proposals are contested, couples could face fees of up to £50,000.

However if you have no children and there's no disputes over assets you can look into online divorce services which cost just a few hundred pounds.